Molden Might Have to Wait to Get Drafted, But He Should be a Good Pro

The former Husky defensive back projects as a third-rounder, but that might not be high enough.
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Elijah Molden wears No. 3 whenever he goes to work.

He was a two-year starting cornerback and a two-time All-Pac-12 selection for the University of Washington, but you get the impression he felt it should have been three for each.

And, with the NFL draft just three days away, Molden's name most often shows up early in the third round.

Triple play.

Now for those who have done their homework on this guy, they will discover at least three reasons for drafting him higher. A lot higher.

Great anticipation.

Quicker than expected.

Innate toughness.

Molden is one of three Huskies projected in different mock drafts to be selected as a first-round draft pick, sharing this distinction with former teammates in defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike and outside linebacker Joe Tryon.

Onwuzurike hears this the most, based on his explosive quickness coming off the ball, as he was able to demonstrate at Senior Bowl workouts.

Tryon, with his length and size, is listed in most mocks as a late first-rounder or an early second-rounder.

Molden, much like his approach to the secondary, is all over the field.

"I'm looking five years down the line," he said. "I think I'm just beginning to play good football, so I'm excited to see where I'm at then." 

The 5-foot-10, 192-pounder from West Linn, Oregon, has been listed as high as No. 30, going to the Buffalo Bills, a team that he's had conversations with in recent weeks, and as low as No. 71 in the third round, which would make him a member of the Denver Broncos.

While he doesn't have blazing speed or freakish athleticism, Molden makes himself accountable on every play, never more than a step away, always anticipating what's coming, a mistake-free defender. 

"He has the third-best coverage grade among NFL prospects since 2014," Pro Football Focus said about Molden. "And he plays safety."

While many analysts and even teams tend to pigeonhole players, Molden always has been full of surprises.

He picked Washington over Oregon for his college team, even after his father, Alex, was a Ducks standout who became a first-round draft pick for the New Orleans Saints in 1997.

At the end of 2019, when the honors started to roll in, the competitor in him acknowledged he should have been playing sooner.

For the Huskies, Molden ultimately emerged as the team standout, following the lead of Budda Baker, Byron Murphy and Taylor Rapp as elite defensive backs. 

In this draft process, people look for the weaknesses rather than celebrate the strengths.

Molden is one of those guys who makes it really had to find them. 

The smart guys in the war rooms surrounded by highlight tape and test results will see a 10-year dependable pro in Elijah, someone who's never out of position.

Except maybe on draft day.

Follow Dan Raley of Husky Maven on Twitter: @DanRaley1 and @HuskyMaven

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